The documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune is a film that attempts to deify the director and his offbeat canon, as well as document just how this passionate 85 year old directed “greatest movie never made.”
In 1975 Chilean Director Alejandro Jodorowsky was on top of the world. The runaway success of his films El Topo and its sequel, The Holy Mountain had loaded his pockets with a ton of Euro Box office cash and garnered him a huge following among the weirdo artsy types. Because of this he was able to secure the rights to Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel “Dune.”
Alejandro started the pre production on the screenplay and storyboards for a film that, at least on paper and in his head looked like the greatest epic ever made. Never mind that he’d never read the book. That’s not important right now. Jodorowsky’s Dune conveys the birth of this cinematic critical miss with a spirited, visually stunning design in which beautiful works of Pre Production storyboards , sketches, paintings, and layouts come alive as animatics.
Jodorowsky’s Dune is loaded with the kind of imaginative descriptions, figurative proclamations, and transcendental metaphors that have characterized all of the unique fantastical works made by an artist with a mad man’s head full of original ideas.
Cue the A-team music. Not unlike Lee Marvin in the Dirty Dozen, he recruited his team of artists and designers by tracking them down and convincing them that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on the greatest most important movie ever. The following Dream Team of artistic geniuses were totally on board with Alejandro’s vision of Dune. He called them his Spiritual Warriors!
Jean Giraud aka Moebius
Comics Legend Moebius was the first to sign on. He was already huge in France. Jodorowsky loved Moebius’s western comic Blueberry and brought him on to do Visual development, character and costume designs, storyboards, and more! It was only after Dune fizzled out Jodorowsky and Moebius, went on to do one of the most incredible SF comics of all time, Incal. In the Incal and later the Metabarons, you could really see what Jodorowsky wanted to do with Dune.
The Incal trailer for proposed feature based on The Incal by Jodorowsky and Moebious. Just a taste of what these guys dreamed up! Beautiful traditional animation.
Dan O’Bannon the guy who wrote the screenplay for Alien, started out as an Special FX Artist, at USC’s Film School where he met John Carpenter. They created 1974 cult classic Dark Star. A cool whacked out sci fi student film that caught Jodorowsky’s eye because of the total lack of polish.
The thought of Orson Welles trying to play “Hide the sand worm” with Mick Jagger is worth the price of admission.
These last two heavy hitters needed a little bribery to sign on.
Salvador Dali as Emeperor of the Galaxy!
Orson Welles as Baron Harkonen. OMG!
Jodorowsky’s charm and genius shine in this doc. Not just his creative genius but his genius to sell his ideas to other people. His passion and enthusiasm and colorful speech hook you. His powerful inspiring presence on the center stage of the film transcends the narrow, fanboy appeal of the material. His insanely exciting account is filled with so many weird twists and hysterical detours it is sure to keep everyone entertained. The movie is refined and cool, and definitely crowd pleaser.
The eventual shelving of Jodorowsky’s production of Dune was indeed a bitter soul crushing let down. A decade later a different version of Dune (directed by David Lynch) was released and it bombed.
It was awesome to see Jodorowsky’s delight when he saw how horrible it was and how it bore no resemblance to his original vision.
Here’s a list of the movies Jodorowsky’s Dream Team of Spiritual Warriors would work on, together or separately. Each of these movies owes a visual debt to a movie that was never made.
- Star Wars
- Alien (the entire team would go on to work on this film)
- Blade Runner
- Heavy Metal
- Conan the Barbarian
- The Last Starfighter
- Back to the Future
- The Abyss
- Total Recall
- The Fifth Element
Alejandro Jorodowsky is just one cool dude. Look at the cool coat contest he won in the pic below!
Enjoy the Podcast!